More Than Meats The Eye – Environmental Vegetarianism

This month, I turned over a new leaf. A leaf that, prior to my going green journey, I genuinely never thought I would turn.

Growing up in a typical small-town NZ household, there was no such thing as a vegetarian meal. We were meat and 3 veg most nights of the week, with a fish and chip dinner every Friday. We would get a lot of meat from family and friends who had farms, and my dad used to do a fair bit of hunting and fishing of his own. I don’t know when or how I first came across the concept of vegetarianism, but I’m sure I probably thought it was just a load of hooey.

Just to be clear, I am a big fan of meat. I enjoy the taste of it and I do miss it. Especially bacon. Oh, sweet bacon. But, unfortunately, life can’t always be about me and I what I want. I needed to start looking at the bigger picture if I really wanted to be able to call myself an environmentalist, and so that’s exactly what I did. A tiny bit of research was all it took to confirm my worst fears – eating meat just isn’t a sustainable thing to do and I had to cut it out. Simple as that.

Environmental vegetarianism is based on the premise that animal agriculture is not environmentally sustainable. Commercial and subsistence farming is detrimental to the planet in a whole bunch of ways, including pollution, emissions, water consumption and deforestation. I’m going to put a bunch of handy links at the bottom of this post so you can read more about all of this stuff, by people who can write about it a lot better than I can. But, something that I would very much recommend you do is track down the documentary Cowspiracy and give it a bit of a watch. It highlights some pretty unbelievable stuff:

  • Up to 137 plant, animal and insect species are lost every day due to rainforest destruction.
  • Animal Agriculture is responsible for 20%-33% of all fresh water consumption in the world today.
  • Agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation. 
  • Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction.

These and a whole bunch of other statistics can be found on the Cowspiracy facts summary page. This doco is full of very interesting and important information, and while it was a bit tough to watch in places, it was the final kick in the butt that I needed to put down the Beef Bourguignon.

My first step, which I began about 6 months ago, was to stop purchasing meat from supermarkets. This was to serve the dual purpose of reducing the amount of non-recyclable packaging I was using, while easing me into not cooking with or consuming meat quite as much. This meant that, for most of this year, I was pretty much only eating meat when going out to restaurants or dinner parties, etc. I think this was a really good place to start, as it has made the first few weeks of being a “proper” vegetarian pretty easy thus far. Something that has probably also been super helpful for me is the fact that I do really enjoy vegetarian food. For the last few years it has been a pretty regular feature of my diet anyway, which mostly came from being on a tight budget and just not always having money to spend on meat. So, while I’ve really only just begun, it’s going okay so far!

Of course, there are plenty of other reasons that going vege is a pretty solid idea. Not supporting the growing and slaughtering of animals for food is a reasonably big one, but I’m not really here to preach. Arguing for vegetarianism and veganism seems super controversial because people LOVE to eat animals and animal products, and really don’t like to be told not to. There is also the fact that so much of our economy, especially in New Zealand, is based on these industries. The dairy industry is a big one for us but is also very problematic for the environment, and so veganism might be in my future as well… I’m really going to miss cheese.

So, please have a look at the links below, check out Cowspiracy and just have a little bit of a think for yourself. I’ll be sure to provide some updates now and then and let you know how I’m going with it all! Please comment below or find us on Facebook if you have something to add on this topic! Thanks for reading 🙂


More good info here:

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